The Handmaid’s Tale: A Powerful Voice Against Repression.


Ta-da! Welcome to another post on my blog. Hope you are having a good day so far.

Before we discuss a book on fun-reading Friday, allow me to share a glimpse of an incredible poem that I read a few days ago on the Internet.

The woman in the spiked device
that locks around the waist
and between
the legs, with holes in it like a tea strainer
is Exhibit

The woman in black with a net window
to see through and a
wooden peg jammed up
between her legs so she can’t be
is Exhibit B.

Exhibit C is the young girl
dragged into the
bush by midwives
and made to sing while they scrape the flesh
from between
her legs, then tie her thighs
till she scabs over and is called
Now she can be married.
For each childbirth they’ll cut
open, then sew her up.
Men like tight women.
The ones that die are
carefully buried.

The next exhibit lies flat on her back
while eighty
men a night
move through her, ten an hour.
She looks at the ceiling,
to the door open and close.
A bell keeps ringing.
Nobody knows
how she got here.

You’ll notice that what they have in common
between the legs. Is this
why wars are fought?
Enemy territory, no
land, to be entered furtively,
fenced, owned but never
scene of these desperate forays
at midnight, captures
sticky murders, doctors’ rubber gloves
greasy with blood, flesh made inert,
the surge
of your own uneasy power.

This is no museum.
Who invented
the word love?

Of all of the literary works of Margaret Atwood, this poem especially touches my heart. This poem is commendable for the word usage, context, and setting, exceptionally because it is raw and disturbs the minds of the reader.

Quite easily understandable, the word “exhibit” denotes the museum setting of the poem. Without wandering around comparisons or metaphors, the author gets straight to the point about the objectification of women.

In the first three stanzas where she describes how a woman kept in an exhibit shows the gruesome state of women in real life. She emphasizes how a woman gets treated like an object as she doesn’t own her body through “fenced,” “owned but never sure,” “the surge of your uneasy power,” and “this is no museum.”

By closing the poem with the question “who invented the word love?” she lets the reader interpret and question the message of the poem.

One of the most insightful books, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” written by Margaret Atwood, has a disturbing and powerful message about the repression of women. The narrator Offred who is a handmaid (assigned to a commander as a reproductive slave) all through the book reminisces on the pre-Gilead time in the United States.

Though Offred’s mother was an in-and-out feminist, she doesn’t believe in her mother’s political beliefs. She doesn’t find a connection with her independent friend Moira too. The novel told from a passive fighter against the repressive society adds heaviness to the plot.

It also arguably puts the notion that a normal and common woman could only do smaller passive fights against the repressive environment. Through the flashbacks of Offred, we can see how men ill-treated women with readily available pornography, abused, raped, and chained before the Gilead took over the Government.

Convincingly, the mistreatment of women-led some women to believe in Gilead’s beliefs, as they thought that it is safer than the old, pre-Gilead society. As a result, a fertile woman gets assigned to a commander and his wife, while the infertile women and the ones with perceived immoral behavior end up in compulsory brothel service.

The most disturbing element of all in the novel is that the handmaids cannot have a name. Housemaids named after their commander’s name with a suffix-of, Offred retained her past even after losing her identity. By preserving her thoughts and feelings, she tried to save her autonomy as an individual.

Unlike active rebels throughout the story, Offred never tried to escape or stand against the Gilead’s beliefs. By meeting the commander alone at night regularly when asked to(which is against the Gilead rule), by involving in a sexual relationship with the gardener Nick, and by ceasing a chance to talk to Moira at the bar, Offred shows signs of passive rebellion here and there.

Even towards the end, Nick plans an escape for Offred after their relationship gets revealed to the Commander’s wife. Solely to avoid his punishment, Nick arranges for Offred’s escape without her active effort on it. Offred could have escaped, met her daughter, who she lost during her previous escape plan, or might have caught.

The author leaves the reader an open ending on Offred’s whereabouts after her escape. You would want her to reunite with her daughter and husband safely after reading the novel. When the story comes to an end, we can’t help but think about facing a repressed society in the 21st century.

If you are someone who asks girls to be careful and safe after reading about rapes, then pause and read the below:

Repressing women by forbidding them to read or own a property and by assigning them as a reproductive slave to a commander; so they could be safe from rapes and abuse is the definition of the word brutality. There is no way a woman can be happy after exchanging her freedom for safety.

Honestly, not all women are rebels. Half or most of them are passive rebellions like Offred from The Handmaid’s Tale. They are not able to alter the beliefs taught to them or escape from them. What we need is not advice or safety precautions for women, but sex education and self-control lessons for potential rapists.

Though the thought of living in an oppressed society seems too unreal, we cannot deny the fact that our world resembles the pre-Gilead civilization from the story.

But, pause, again:

We have a lot of women and men supporting gender equality and working intensely for it. Let’s hope that the world shifts for the better.

With that, I would strongly recommend this book for all free-thinkers. It is worth reading and hoping that it talks to your soul.

If you have come this far of this article but not a bookworm, you can also see the Handmaid’s Tale series. The novel, with such a persuasive setting and narrative, released as early as 1985, astounds me. It also shows how marvellous the author is, with her sturdy thoughts and words.

If you could relate, save these pins, and never forget to pin your comments after reading the novel in the comment box below.

Leaving you to your profound thoughts after reading this post about a powerful novel,

Signing off; and boop. See you soon in the next post.

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